CONTACT: CHARLES S. DRUM
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0048; fax (319) 384-0024
'Civility' on campus is concern of university ombudsperson
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The 12th annual report of the University of Iowa ombudsperson,
now available in print or on the world wide web, reports that while the
caseload was down somewhat from last year, the office of the ombudsperson
has concerns about issues of civility on campus.
Many of the complaints filed by students, faculty, and staff who call
the University of Iowa ombudsperson have to do with basic respect, according
to the report, which notes that students complain that faculty sometimes
treat them dismissively or rudely, staff members say supervisors too often
criticize them harshly, and faculty members complain that administrators
can be unresponsive.
"Many complaints we hear of lack of civility are well-founded and
the university suffers both in terms of morale and productivity as a result,"
the report says. "Ideally this problem should be solved at the level
of the individual employee and supervisor, though support and encouragement
from all levels of administration is essential."
According to the report, during fiscal year 1998--the period covered
by the report--the office served 324 new clients, including 149 students,
135 staff members, 61 faculty, and 16 others, who were either anonymous
or outside the university. The caseload was down overall about 16 percent
from the previous year, the report says.
Undergraduate student complaints handled by the office were up about
20 percent from last year, but graduate student complaints were down 20
percent. Most student complaints involved academic issues: classroom behavior,
academic requirements, grades, and exams, for example. Staff complaints
were down slightly, with most complaints involving job conflicts such as
performance appraisals and evaluations, salary disputes, progressive discipline,
and termination. Faculty complaints decreased by half, according to the
report, with most complaints revolving around promotion and tenure issues.
Staff member Maile Sagen and faculty member Lois Cox serve as co-ombudspersons,
appointed by the university president.
There were 24 complaints regarding issues of harassment or discrimination,
evenly divided among sexual harassment and consensual relationships, disability,
and race and gender with eight complaints in each category. All the consensual
relationship and sexual harassment complaints involved a relationship between
a student--primarily graduate students--and a faculty or staff member.
The report calls this pattern "troubling because of the vulnerability
of students due to their dependence on faculty and staff for completion
of their academic work, grades, graduation requirements, references, and
future jobs." The majority of disability issues this year were brought
by faculty and staff.
The full text of the report is available on the world wide web at http://www.uiowa.edu/~ooombuds,
by email at email@example.com,
or by mail from the University of Iowa Office of the Ombudsperson, C108
Seashore Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.